Irreligion in South Korea

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In 2005, according to figures compiled by the South Korean National Statistical Office, 46.5% of the population were classified as Irreligious, compared to 22.8% Buddhists, 18.3% Protestants, 10.9% Catholics, and 1.7% Other religions.[1]

According to a 2012 Gallup International poll 15% of South Korean people were convinced atheists, up from 11% in its previous survey in 2005.[2] This made South Korea the joint 5th most atheistic country of the 57 countries surveyed in 2012, tied with Germany on 15%, and behind France on 29%, the Czech Republic on 30%, Japan on 31%, and China on 47%.[2] The number of South Koreans describing themselves as religious dropped 6% from 58% to 52% between the 2005 and 2012 surveys, leaving South Korea joint 17th least religious of the 57 countries surveyed in 2012.[2] The complete 2012 figures for South Korea were 52% of people describing themselves as 'a religious person', 31% as 'not a religious person', 15% as 'a convinced atheist', and 2% as 'Don't know/No response'.[2] For comparison, the global average figures for all 57 countries surveyed in 2012, weighted by population, were 59% of people describing themselves as 'a religious person', 23% as 'not a religious person', 13% as 'a convinced atheist', and 5% as 'Don't know/No response'.[2]

Note however that in the afore-mentioned surveys,[2] the figures for 'Not a religious person'[3][4] (and also the figures for 'convinced atheists',[3] though to a much lesser extent) include significant numbers of people who nevertheless also describe themselves as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.,[3][4] How this applies to the South Korean religious landscape is uncertain, as the published numbers [3][4] do not represent numbers for South Korea, but global averages. Among these global average numbers are the following: Buddhists—97% religious person, 2% not a religious person, 0% convinced atheist, and 1% 'Don't know/No response'.[3] Protestant—83% religious person, 14% not a religious person, 1% convinced atheist, and 2% 'Don't know/No response'.[3] Roman Catholic—81% religious person, 16% not a religious person, 1% convinced atheist, and 2% 'Don't know/No response'.[3] 'Nothing' (No religion) -- 3% religious person, 47% not a religious person, 45% convinced atheist, and 6% 'Don't know/No response'.[3] There can be many reasons for what some may see as the apparent self-contradictions in such positions, such as differing understandings of the meanings of words like 'religious' and 'religion',[5] or 'atheist' and 'atheism',[6] a major problem in discussions related to religion.[7]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to figures compiled by the South Korean National Statistical Office. "인구,가구/시도별 종교인구/시도별 종교인구 (2005년 인구총조사)". NSO online KOSIS database. Retrieved August 23, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism - 2012
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism - 2012, Religion-wise subsection of Table 8 on Pages 24 and 25
  4. ^ a b c Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism - 2012, 'Interesting Variations Among the Believers' on page 4 (brief discussion plus table)
  5. ^ Various definitions of 'religion'
  6. ^ Various definitions of 'atheism'
  7. ^ Ambiguity among religious terms Quote: There are probably more religious terms with multiple, conflicting meanings than in any other area of human activity.

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